Equestrians unite: Top showjumpers take time out for Riding for the Disabled visit

Bertram Allen takes a selfie of he and team-mate Cian O’Connor and Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa with, from left, Oisin O’Connell,  7, from Clashmore, Co Waterford, Lynn Frain, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Niamh Carolan, from Navan, Co Meath, Stephen Power, from Dungarvin, Co Waterford, and Gemma Haire, 17, from Inistioge, Co Kilkenny.
Bertram Allen takes a selfie of he and team-mate Cian O’Connor and Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa with, from left, Oisin O’Connell,  7, from Co Waterford, Lynn Frain (Westmeath), Niamh Carolan (Co Meath), Stephen Power (Co Waterford), and Gemma Haire, 17, from Co Kilkenny. © Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Several young members of a regional RDA in Ireland met their equestrian heroes last week when they called in at Dublin’s Simmonscourt Arena to visit the country’s showjumping squad members.

Riders from the Riding for the Disabled Association Ireland (RDAI) were excited to meet Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor, and team manager Rodrigo Pessoa, ahead of a special display by a group from the RDAI at the grounds on Saturday.

“It was lovely to meet the kids today and you can see how much it means to them,” Ireland’s top-ranking international rider Bertram Allen said.

Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa meets Gemma Haire, 17, from Inistioge, Co Kilkenny.
Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa meets Gemma Haire, 17, from Inistioge, Co Kilkenny. © Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

“We are delighted to help in any way to raise awareness of the fantastic work done by the RDAI.”

The meeting was part of efforts to raise awareness of the work of the RDAI. Event co-organizer Taylor Vard, from Horse Sport Ireland’s ShowJumping High Performance committee, said several charities had been considered, but it was the equine connection that won out.

“We understand what is involved in working with horses and the time that’s put in. We felt this was something we could help raise awareness of, not only for the kids that are involved with the Riding For The Disabled but also for the helpers and the carers that have to put in the long hours,” Vard said.

Cian O’Connor, Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa and Bertram Allen meet Oisin O’Connell, age 7, from Clashmore, Co Waterford at the RDS Simmonscourt arena in Ballsbridge, Dublin.
Cian O’Connor, Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa and Bertram Allen meet Oisin O’Connell, age 7, from Clashmore, Co Waterford at the RDS Simmonscourt arena in Ballsbridge, Dublin. © Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Frankie Griffin of RDAI said participants rode about once a week, and were well aware of Ireland’s leading showjumpers.

“We are trying to raise awareness of the work we do in the RDAI and to stress that we are a 100% voluntary organization. No-one gets paid in our organisation which I think is important to get across. We are always very welcome to get a few bob. Most of our groups raise their own money for tack or an outing to keep things ticking over. The Equestrian Centre’s very kindly let us ride their horses on the days that they are not open.”

Griffin said volunteers were always welcome. “You don’t have to be involved in horses to help out as we have a very good training system and our instructors are upgraded every two years.”

Find out more at www.rdai.org.

• Ireland has had an incredible innings over the first four days of the five day Dublin Horse Show, winning all seven individual five-star competitions so far. Daniel Coyle and Christopher Megahey, join Cian O’Connor, Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen, Shane Breen and a double winner Greg Broderick, as RDS winners over the past four days.

The Dublin Horse Show comes to a close on Sunday with the €200,000 Longines Grand Prix of Ireland.

Cian O’Connor pictured with Lynn Frain, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath. 
Cian O’Connor pictured with Lynn Frain, from Mullingar, Co Westmeath. © Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

 

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